T. Butler King papers, 1763-1868, 2003 (bulk 1835-1868).

Creator: King, T. Butler (Thomas Butler), 1800-1864.
Collection number: 1252
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Abstract: Thomas Butler King of Retreat Plantation, Saint Simons Island, Ga., was a Georgia and United States legislator, collector of the port of San Francisco, and Georgia representative to various courts in Europe during the Civil War, with special interests in internal improvements and naval affairs. Papers of King and his wife Anna Matilda Page King, 1835-1840, deal primarily with King’s business, managerial, and legislative activities on behalf of the Brunswick and Altamaha Canal Company, the Brunswick and Florida Railroad Company, and the Brunswick Land Company. Papers, 1841-1848, document King’s political career as U.S. representative from Georgia’s First Congressional District, which included Glynn County and the cities of Brunswick and Savannah. Among these are papers about his activities as member and chair of the U.S. House Naval Affairs Committee and about Whig political activities in Georgia, the South, and the nation. Materials, 1849-1852, deal with King’s work in California, first as the personal adviser of President Zachary Taylor and then as the first collector of the port of San Francisco under Millard Fillmore. Between 1853 and 1859, papers deal with family matters and King’s investments in and promotion of a transcontinental railroad through Texas. Papers, 1860-1864, relate to his promotion of railroads in south Georgia, his association with the secession crisis, and his activities on behalf of the state of Georgia and the Confederacy in various European capitals during the first years of the Civil War. There also are letters, diaries, and other materials relating to the King sons at various locations during the war and other family letters that reflect the effects of the war. Letters discussing plantation and family matters account for almost half of the collection. Most of these were written between 1850 and 1859 by Anna Matilda Page King, who chiefly discussed agricultural matters, including the treatment of slaves, but also expressed a certain amount of anti-semitism and wrote of her experimentation with the occult.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence and records of King, a planter on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Family correspondence pertains to plantation affairs, including issues such as punishing a runaway slave, taking care of sick slaves, and the difficulties of raising children around slavery (1809-1859). Post-Civil War letters refer to running plantations with German and black labor in Mississippi and Louisiana (1866-1868).